Ban fast food TV ads?
Fast food ads should be banned, because it’s making American youth fatter, says a group of doctors.
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"Congress and the Federal Trade Commission have to get tough with the food industry," said Dr. Victor Strasburger, who wrote the new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a group of 65,000 physicians.

"It's time for the food industry to clean up its act and not advertise junk food to young children," Strasburger said. "Just by banning ads for fast food, one study says we could decrease obesity and overweight by 17%."

According to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in six children and teenagers are obese, up three-fold from a generation ago.

While experts agree there are several reasons for this development, they are increasingly focusing on the role of excess "screen time", both for its physical effects on kids and the advertising messages that TVs and computers are delivering to them.

Nearly a third of American youngsters eat fast food on any given day, the AAP says, with the nation spending in excess of $110 billion every year on things like burgers and French fries, "more than that spent on higher education, computers, or cars."

In 2009, the fast food industry spent $4.2 billion on ads in various media. And research shows they work. For instance, one study found kids watching cartoons downed 45% more snacks when they were exposed to food ads instead of ads for other products.

Screen time not so innocent

Sitting glued to the TV or the computer for hours on end also eats up time that could have been used for physical activities, said Strasburger.

"I think parents have always thought that if their kids were in their room watching TV or on the Internet, they were happy and safe," he added. "The research says, maybe not."

Do you think fast food TV ads should be banned?

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